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More than 5,000 U.S. water systems violated lead-testing rules last year
June 28, 2016
A report released Tuesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council details how many other communities around the country are failing to adequately ensure that their water supplies remain free of lead.
The report, which analyzed data from the Environmental Protection Agency, found that nearly 18 million Americans are served by 5,126 water systems that in 2015 violated the federal rules governing lead testing. The violations included failures to properly monitor for lead, treat water to reduce corrosion in pipes or report testing results to the public or to regulators.
And the report found that despite those 7,783 documented violations of the EPA's "Lead and Copper Rule," the agency took a formal enforcement action in only 907 cases. "This lack of accountability sends a clear message to water suppliers. ... There is no cop on the beat," the NRDC authors write.
"In almost 90 percent of cases, neither the states nor the EPA takes any formal enforcement action," said co-author Erik Olson, who directs the advocacy group's health programs. "The cop is sitting there watching everybody run stoplights and stop signs and never bothers to write anybody a ticket."